Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Most cases of flu, including H1N1 flu, require only symptom relief. If you have a chronic respiratory disease, your doctor may prescribe additional medication to help relieve your symptoms.

The antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) are sometimes prescribed to reduce the severity of symptoms, but flu viruses can develop resistance to them. Some researchers recommend further study on both of these drugs due to uncertainty about their effects beyond the initial reduction in symptoms.

To make development of resistance less likely and maintain supplies of these drugs for those who need them most, antivirals are reserved for people at high risk of complications.

High-risk groups are those who:

  • Are hospitalized
  • Are younger than 5 years of age, particularly children younger than 2 years
  • Are 65 years and older
  • Are pregnant or within two weeks of delivery, including women who have had pregnancy loss
  • Are younger than 19 years of age and are receiving long-term aspirin therapy, because of an increased risk for Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease
  • Have certain chronic medical conditions, including asthma, emphysema, heart disease, diabetes, neuromuscular disease, obesity, and kidney, liver or blood disease
  • Are immunosuppressed due to certain medications or HIV
Apr. 05, 2014